NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – More than a dozen vacant storefronts in downtown Northampton has some people concerned about the local economy.
Mayor Narkewicz says every vacant spot has a different story, but he says there’s still a lot of business interested in calling Northampton home.
Northampton is called the ‘Paradise City.’ Its a city known for it’s arts and culture, and vibrant and bustling downtown.
We asked people, are it’s best days in the past? “Oh hell no,” said Lee Thomson of Northampton.
Walking the downtown sidewalks in Northampton you typically either see people with shopping bags or people with food. However, more recently you are seeing vacant storefronts like the former Hinge restaurant and the former Spoleto, which has been vacant for nearly four years. The former Hempest store and the Subway are also empty.
Marlene Morocco co-chairs the Downtown Northampton Association. They run the sidewalk sales, restaurant week and the events that make Northampton unique.
“We are just on the cusp of the next generation of new people coming in,” said Morocco. “We’ve got a lot of established businesses that have been here and people retire. People move on. People sell.”
Six of the 14 vacant spots on Main Street are owned by businessman Eric Suher. Mayor David Narkewicz says he’s working with him to get those spaces filled.
“I appreciate the significant investment he has in downtown. I also understand that some of his properties are some of the key vacant ones. So we communicate on a regular basis,” said Mayor Narkewicz.
“Its sad that there are that many spaces and its worrying that we don’t have something to put in there. I can see where you wouldn’t necessarily want another t-shirt shop,” remarker Northampton resident Lee Thomson.
The mayor points to the city’s investment in the redevelopment of Pulaski Park, and low commercial tax rate as evidence that Northampton’s downtown remains attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.
Mayor Narkewicz says another sandwich shop will soon fill the former Subway storefront, while the former Western Village Ski Shop is also being redeveloped.